Back on Dirt at Keeneland; New Track Opens

Shortly after the main track at Keeneland opened at 5:30 a.m. Aug. 28, there was a familiar racetrack sound that had been missing at the Lexington oval since 2006: the clippity-clop of hooves striking the dirt as they breezed through the stretch.

The Aug. 28 works and gallops at Keeneland were the first since the track completed installation of what it is billing a “state-of-the-art” conventional dirt oval to replace the Polytrack all-weather artificial surface that had been in place since the fall 2006 meet.

Later in the morning of Aug. 28, Keeneland president and CEO Bill Thomason, director of racing Rogers Beasley, track superintendent Javier Barajas, and those involved with planning and construction of the new surface held a news conference to officially unveil the new track.

“We will have thundering hooves again at Keeneland,” Thomason said as he observed some of the early works.

Since the fall meet does not begin until Oct. 3, the only horses training over the Polytrack training track and the new main track are those stabled year-round at the Rice Road annex. As a result, there was a paucity of activity early Aug. 28, but among the top trainers sending horses to the track were Ken McPeek and Wesley Ward.

Ward said the early reviews from his exercise riders were positive.

“Everybody is very happy,” said the trainer who is overseeing 40 horses stabled at the Rice Road barn area. Ward said he would let his horses gallop over the track for several days to get a feel for the new surface before actually breezing any.

Keeneland’s clockers said they were surprised there were any workers considering the newness of the track, and that the workout times were not particularly fast nor slow. According to Equibase, there were about a half-dozens official works over the new dirt track.

Two 2-year-old fillies—Liquid Crystals and one unnamed—each breezed three furlongs in :37 3/5. Among four horses working a half-mile, the best time of :48 3/5 was turned in by the 4-year-old stakes-winning filly Allanah. Working five furlongs was 3-year-old Bump Start, who was timed in :59 3/5.

Beasley said Keeneland had targeted mid-August for the new surface to be in use, but that an unusual amount of rainfall in the Lexington area during the month had set the project back slightly. It was still early enough before the meet began to give the track a good workout.

Keeneland Dirt Track Diagram
Photo: Keeneland Image

 

According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, 9.18 inches of rain has been recorded in Lexington so far in August, compared with an average of 2.8 inches for the month that is usually one of the driest of the year.

Beasley said that on one day when more than four inches of rain were recorded, “the new track drained perfectly.”

Keeneland, which used the expertise of Dr. Mick Peterson, executive director of Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, in the planning and construction of the new track, has said it would return to a conventional dirt surface in an effort to attract more horsemen who shunned Polytrack, and also as a lure to become a host track for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships.

Although Breeders’ Cup did not tell Keeneland that having a dirt track would help its chances, according to Keeneland officials, the track subsequently was selected to host the 2015 World Championships.

“The new materials and advanced technology available to monitor consistency and moisture content in the racing surface have enabled us to build a world-class dirt track that will be as safe as possible for horse and rider,” Thomason said in a release.
Conversion of the main track from a synthetic Polytrack surface to a dirt surface began May 19.
“This dirt track represents more than a year of study and testing with regard to materials, water drainage and track maintenance, but our job is not done,” Beasley said. “We want to be part of the national dialogue about track maintenance and safety. The data we retrieve from our ongoing research will be an opportunity to move the industry forward.”
“Keeneland has addressed the single most critical factor in both dirt and turf track maintenance and design: moisture content,” Peterson said in a statement. “In addition to a novel drainage system, Keeneland has committed to an ongoing study of the way water is applied by the water truck, how the water evaporates from a dirt racing surface and the maintenance response to rain. By committing to understanding the single biggest variable in dirt race track design and maintenance, Keeneland is not only providing a superior racing surface but also supplying technology that can be used throughout the industry.”
Construction of the dirt track got underway when workers began removing 16,000 tons of Polytrack to reach the existing layer of porous asphalt that covers a complex drainage system installed during the 2006 track renovation. The porous asphalt was then covered by Mirafi 140N geotextile fabric, which maintains the integrity of the 26,000 tons of Class I sand placed on top of it to form the base of the track.
According to Keeneland, the dirt track features a unique drainage system, the first of its kind in North America, along the inside and outside rails that works in tandem with the existing system beneath the track.
Under the inside rail and along the outer rail through the straights and chutes, interlocking EcoRain drainage cells filled with pea gravel were stacked horizontally and covered by a flexible porous paving material made from recycled tires. This system is designed to consistently collect and discharge water into the existing drainage system and away from the track surface.
A blend of approximately 19,000 tons of sand, silt and clay native to Kentucky forms the main track’s six-inch racing surface. The surface composition consists of approximately 87.5% sand and 12.5% clay and silt.

Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason and Dr. Mick Peterson,  Executive Director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, explain  the significance and innovation involved in the new dirt racing surface  installed at Keeneland during a August 28, 2014 reveal.
Read more on BloodHorse.com:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/87032/back-on-dirt-at-keeneland-new-track-opens#ixzz3BlPiMQkZ

Target on Wise Dan for Bernard Baruch Return

Target on Wise Dan for Bernard Baruch Return

Photo: Dave Harmon – Wise Dan makes his return in the Bernard Baruch.

If ever there was a time to beat Wise Dan, that time is now.

You can practically see that thought percolating in the minds of trainers at Saratoga Race Course, where the two-time Horse of the Year has been working all summer.

On May 16, colic surgery took Wise Dan out of action after he took his first two races of the season—repeat victories in the April 11 Maker’s 46 Mile (gr. IT) and the May 3 Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT).

Seventeen weeks since his last race, and 106 days removed from that emergency proceedure, the six-time Eclipse Award winner will face a solid field in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) Aug. 30. Ten others entered the 1 1/16-mile turf test to contest the 127-pound highweight making his highly anticipated return, although two of them—Lea and Red Rifle—are entered for the main track only.

Charlie LoPresti is a realist, a worrier, and a consumate horseman who has managed the six-time Eclipse Award winner brilliantly through four seasons of racing. Three weeks ago he bypassed the Aug. 9 Fourstardave (gr. IIT), a race Wise Dan had won twice before, because he felt his champion was not quite ready.

“I wanted to bring him along slow, so I did that, and this gave me a little bit more time,” LoPresti said. “He’s ready to run and I don’t want to sit around and not run him here and take him back to Kentucky and have to go back to Woodbine (for the Sept. 14 Ricoh Woodbine Mile), so my goal is to run here.”

Wise Dan has won consecutive editions of the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT), 10 grade I races, and 17 graded stakes overall. He has 21 wins overall from 29 races and earnings of $6,802,920. But the 7-year-old homebred could face his steepest test as the 3-5 morning line favorite on the inner turf in the Bernard Baruch, having spent the past four months recuperating from surgery. Many wonder if, in his comeback, the racing world will see the same horse who in 2012 and 2013 dazzled with multiple flawless performances.

“Everybody tells me that it shouldn’t affect him, what happened to him, and I don’t think it’s affected him, but you don’t know that until you run,” LoPresti said.

Wise Dan has had seven works since the operation, the past six at Saratoga. Despite a slow start, in his most recent move over the main track he went a strong half-mile on the dirt in :47.92 Aug. 24, seventh-fastest of 101 moves that morning.

“He’s gotten back to where he was; he’s dragging his rider around there,” LoPresti said. “His works have been really good, and they’ve been basically not even asking him to do that. He’s just been doing it in hand.

“I think he’s back to himself again. It took him a while to get back. We were probably two works short of the Fourstardave. Once we got him up here, I realized I was trying to play catch-up to make that race and this makes more sense.”

Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez will be back aboard the chestnut, who drew post 5

“I want to get him started. I’m not going to jump off the roof if he gets beat half a length or a length, something like that,” LoPresti said. “He’s been beaten before, so that doesn’t worry me. He got beat in the Shadwell Mile (in October 2013) and everybody started writing him off, but he got beat by a horse that got on the front end and just stole the race.

“It could happen again (Saturday), but Johnny’s smart enough. He’s not going to abuse him and chase some horse around there just to get a win in him. If he’s lucky enough to win, fine, but if it sets him up for the Shadwell and the Breeders’ Cup, I’m OK with that, too.”

Wise Dan will give up between eight and 13 pounds to his rivals in the Baruch. He carried 129 pounds in his 1 1/4-length victory over King Kreesa in last year’s Fourstardave.

“He is going to have to carry more weight and that’s the one thing I’m concerned about; I know we did it last year but this is a different scenario,” LoPresti said. “Any kind of  colic surgery is colic surgery, so you have to be concerned about that. But he is ready to run; he’s very good right now, his last three works have indicated that.

“It’s just that last year he didnt have the setback that he had in the middle of the year, he didn’t have colic surgery. He’s 100%, I feel pretty certain about that, but he hasn’t run since May and that’s something you have to think about.”

With many lining up to take a shot at Wise Dan, the only other grade I winner in the Baruch field is Boisterous, a 7-year-old son of Distorted Humor   making his sixth start since being transferred to trainer Todd Pletcher for the 2014 campaign.

Boisterous won the Man o’ War (gr. IT) last summer at Belmont Park for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and owns one victory in four career tries on the Saratoga turf, his maiden triumph in August 2010. Most recently he finished fourth, beaten 1 1/4 lengths, in the Bowling Green Handicap (gr. IIT) going 1 1/2 miles on July 12 at Belmont.

Closing in on 1,000 career stakes victories, Pletcher captured the 1 1/8-mile Cliff Hanger (gr. IIIT) on Aug. 24 at Monmouth Park with Winning Cause, who the trainer cut back in distance after running fourth in the 1 5/8-mile John’s Call at Saratoga. Pletcher won the 2012 Bernard Baruch with Dominus  .

“Sometimes you get an improved effort when you’re going from longer to shorter (distances). We saw that with Winning Cause,” Pletcher said. “Boisterous shows up and tries hard every time. He’s been training steadily since his last race and he’s doing well. On certain days, he’s shown that he can compete at the highest level.”

Half of a Gary Barber-owned entry with Bio Pro, Boisterous will carry jockey Javier Castellano and 119 pounds from post 4.

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin won three straight editions of the Bernard Baruch with Shakis (2007-08) and Justenuffhumor   (2009), and goes for a fourth with Sayaad. The 4-year-old Street Sense   colt had his three-race win streak snapped when fifth to Seek Again in the Fourstardave after dueling with grade I-winning pacesetter Silver Max. It was a loose-on-the-lead Silver Max that ended Wise Dan’s nine-race streak in the 2013 Shadwell Mile.

“We could be on an uncontested lead, but Wise Dan is keen and off a long layoff; he could be breathing down our throats or he could be on the lead,” McLaughlin said. “I’m hoping we can be on the lead, but if there’s other speed we can lay second. He did rate (in the Fourstardave), we just need to time it right.”

Jose Ortiz will ride Sayaad, assigned 117 pounds, from post 10.

Sky Blazer will be making his 29th career start and 10th in a graded stakes in the Bernard Baruch, a race in which he finished third in 2012. He is 1-for-6 this year, winning an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park in March and finishing third by less than a length in the Bowling Green.

“I’ve run him long, I’ve run him short, and he’s run decently both ways,” trainer Barclay Tagg said. “I can’t get something that really fits him well, so we might as well take a shot. Big things happen sometimes if you’re in there. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Sky Blazer will break from outside post 11 under Rajiv Maragh and carry 116 pounds.

Rounding out the field are multiple grade III winners Five Iron, who took the 2013 Saranac (gr. IIIT) at Saratoga for trainer Brian Lynch, and Optimizer, a veteran of all three legs of the 2012 Triple Crown for previous trainer D. Wayne Lukas; North Star Boy, a Spa allowance winner July 19; and Bio Pro and Paris Vegas, second and sixth, respectively, in the Lure Stakes Aug. 2 at the Spa.

The Bernard Baruch is one of four graded stakes on the Saturday program, along with the $600,000 Woodward (gr. I), $500,000 Forego (gr. I), and $300,000 Prioress (gr. II).

Bernard Baruch H. (gr. II)

Saratoga Race Course , Saturday, August 30, 2014, Race 5
  • 1 1/16m
  • Inner turf
  • $250,000
  • 3 yo’s & up
  • 3:15 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Weight Trainer
1 Optimizer (KY) Alan Garcia 116 Jose Fernandez
2A Bio Pro (KY) Jose Lezcano 117 William I. Mott
3 North Star Boy (IRE) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 114 Niall Saville
4A Boisterous (KY) Javier Castellano 119 Todd A. Pletcher
5 Wise Dan (KY) John R. Velazquez 127 Charles Lopresti
6 Lea (KY) Joel Rosario 126 William I. Mott
7 Paris Vegas (KY) Luis Saez 114 Elizabeth Voss
8 Red Rifle (KY) UNKNOWN 124 Todd A. Pletcher
9 Five Iron (KY) Joel Rosario 119 Brian A. Lynch
10 Sayaad (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 117 Kiaran P. McLaughlin
11 Sky Blazer (KY) Rajiv Maragh 116 Barclay Tagg

Read more on BloodHorse.com:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/87018/target-on-wise-dan-for-bernard-baruch-return#ixzz3BebRqaAz

LEADING JOCKEYS

1 Javier Castellano $17,694,134
2 Joel Rosario $14,422,581
3 Irad Ortiz, Jr. $12,358,101
4 John R. Velazquez $10,531,007
5 Jose L. Ortiz $9,880,591
6 Mike E. Smith $9,681,648
7 Rosie Napravnik $8,209,710
8 Victor Espinoza $7,989,537
9 Jose Lezcano $7,940,364
10 Rajiv Maragh $7,833,045

California Chrome Sharpens Up at Los Alamitos

California Chrome Sharpens Up at Los Alamitos

Photo: Courtesy Los Alamitos – California Chrome went 4 furlongs in :47 2/5 on

The morning after his connections selected the Pennsylvania Derby (gr. II) for his return race, California Chrome picked up his pace at Los Alamitos Race Course Aug. 22 with a bullet half-mile drill.

Trainer Art Sherman had California Chrome’s regular rider Victor Espinoza aboard for the first time since the dual classic winner ran fourth in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) June 7 while attempting to sweep the Triple Crown.

California Chrome was clocked in a smart :47 2/5, handily, the swiftest of 15 on the morning over the one-mile Los Alamitos oval.

“I wanted to crank down on him just a little bit, and it went perfect,” Sherman said in reference to bringing Espinoza up from Del Mar to ride California Chrome. “I caught him going :13 and two (1:13 2/5) for three-quarters. (California Chrome) puts a lot into his works, and when he’s on his game, he works really easy. I was really pleased with the work. We’ll keep stepping it up, we’ll go five-eighths (next time).”

It was the third workout for the California-bred son of Lucky Pulpit   since he returned to training last month following a five-week break, and by far his quickest. With exercise rider Anna Wells aboard each time, the sleek chestnut had a three-furlong move Aug. 8 in :37 3/5, followed by a half-mile drill Aug. 15 in :50 2/5.

Espinoza said California Chrome is getting stronger.

“I think he’s coming back good,” the jockey said. “It was pretty nice and easy.”

Sherman said California Chrome is scheduled to work next Aug. 29 at the Orange County track. There are also plans to have the colt drill at Los Alamitos during the Los Angeles County Fair meet Sept. 6 between the third and fourth races.

Plans call for California Chrome to run in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby Sept. 20. If so, he would become the first Kentucky Derby winner to run at Parx Racing. Sherman told the Philadelphia News that California Chrome would ship for the race by Sept. 15.

The Pennsylvania Derby would be California Chrome’s final race before the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park.

If for some reason California Chrome is unable to make the race, Sherman said the $300,000 Awesome Again (gr. I) Sept. 27 at Santa Anita would be the second option.

Owned by his breeders Steve Coburn and Perry Martin, California Chrome has won five of six starts in 2014 while banking $3,317,800. In additon to his victories in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), he has also won the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I) and San Felipe Stakes (gr. II) this season.

Read more on BloodHorse.com:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/86925/california-chrome-sharpens-up-at-los-alamitos#ixzz3BBWXlHRJ

The Jockey Club Elects Six New Members

The Jockey Club has elected six new members—Ian G. Banwell, Everett R. Dobson, Helen Groves, Roy Jackson, William Shively, and Frank Stronach—it was announced Aug. 20.

Banwell and his wife, Caroline, own St. George Farm near Lexington and race their horses as St. George Farm Racing. Banwell, the CEO and owner of Round Table Investment Management Company, became involved in Thoroughbred racing as a result of a boyhood friendship with veterinarian Bryan Boone. He is a member of the Keeneland board of directors and races many horses in partnership with G. Watts Humphrey Jr.

Dobson has owned and raced Thoroughbreds since 1996. He owns Cheyenne Stables and a commercial breeding operation, Candy Meadows, as well as a minority investment in Three Chimneys Stallions. In 1989, he founded Dobson Communications Corporation which became one of the largest wireless service providers in the U.S. before its sale to AT&T in November 2007.

Groves, a direct descendent of Richard King of the legendary King Ranch in Texas, breeds and raises Thoroughbreds and also owns several ranches and raises Quarter Horses. She is an accomplished equestrian and a former director of King Ranch Incorporated. Her father, Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. was a member of The Jockey Club and a founding director of the Keeneland Association. Her daughters, Helen Alexander, Emory Hamilton, Caroline Forgason, Henrietta Alexander and Dorothy Matz, have been actively involved in the Thoroughbred industry as well.

Jackson and his wife, Gretchen, began breeding racehorses in 1978 at Lael Farm, located in the midst of steeplechase and show horse country in West Grove, Pa. Roy Jackson, after his career in the management end of professional baseball ended in 2004, began devoting his full attention to breeding and racing in the United States and Europe. Lael Stable campaigned the popular 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro.

Shively and his wife, Donna, purchased Dixiana Farm near Lexington in 2004, Woodlynn Farm (later renamed Woodland Farm) in 2006, and Domino Stud in 2009. He is a Keeneland director and a member of the Breeders’ Cup. He is chairman and CEO of Tower Hill Insurance Group near Gainesville, Fla., a group of five property and casualty insurance companies. Tower Hill is a leading provider of homeowner’s insurance in Florida.

Stronach, who owns the commercial breeding operation Adena Springs, has been involved in Thoroughbred racing for more than 40 years. He has earned eight Eclipse Awards as the nation’s outstanding breeder and four others as outstanding owner. The Stronach family and Adena Springs have bred and/or campaigned more than 200 stakes winners. He is the founder and honorary chairman of The Stronach Group, which operates Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park, Maryland Jockey Club, Golden Gate Fields, and Portland Meadows.
Read more on BloodHorse.com:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/86877/the-jockey-club-elects-six-new-members#ixzz3AzI2MZKM

Wise Dan to Make Return in Bernard Baruch

 

Wise Dan to Make Return in Bernard Baruch

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt – Wise Dan

If all goes well, two-time Horse of the Year Wise Dan will begin his road to the Breeders’ Cup World Championships in the $250,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap (gr. IIT) at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 30.
Trainer Charlie LoPresti had said previously he was leaning toward he Sept. 14 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) at Canada’s Woodbine Racecourse as the most likely spot for the 7-year-old gelding’s comeback after recovering from colic surgery, but he opted for the Bernard Baruch two weeks earlier because “he’s doing very well right now. He’s on top of his game.”
LoPresti said there is still a possibility Morton Fink’s homebred, who has earned more than $6.8 million, would not run in the 1 1/16-mile Bernard Baruch on grass, but right now that is the plan.
“We will enter and see how the race comes up, but if you aren’t entered you won’t run. I am going to enter and see how it turns out and how the horse does. He’s awful good right now. I just don’t want to sit on him forever and if I don’t enter I won’t have a chance to run.”
If, for some reason, such as inclement weather that affected the Saratoga course conditions on Bernard Baruch day, and Wise Dan did not run Aug. 30 then he would be pointed toward the mile race at Woodbine, the conditioner said.
“The goal for this horse right now is the best route to get him to the Breeders’ Cup,” LoPresti said. “He’s very good right now. This race makes sense. He’s right in his back yard. All he has to do is walk across the street and run. Unless something goes wrong within the next 10 days, my decision is to enter in the Bernard Baruch and if all the stars line up, he will run in the Bernard Baruch.”
Also, according to LoPresti, there is even the possibility of Wise Dan running in both the Bernard Baruch and Ricoh Mile.
“He will go home to Keeneland Race Course as soon as this meet is over with, and then I have options to either run him in the Shadwell (Turf Mile, gr. IT, Oct. 4) or, who knows, maybe if this race doesn’t take too much out of him run in the Woodbine Mile in two weeks and not run in the Shadwell Mile, or vice-versa.
“It just depends on how everything comes along. We have to work backward from the Breeders’ Cup because that is the ultimate goal. But he is 110% right now and I think it makes sense to enter in this race (Bernard Baruch).”
During his 2012 Horse of the Year campaign, Wise Dan used victories in both the Ricoh Mile and Shadwell Turf Mile en route to success in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT). Last year, Wise Dan won the Woodbine stakes and was second in the Keeneland stakes before successfully defending his Breeders’ Cup Mile title and a second Horse of the Year and champion male turf horse championship.

In his only two starts this year, Wise Dan was a repeat winner in both the Maker’s 46 Mile at Keeneland and Woodford Reserve Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, both grade I.

Since recovering from the mid-May colic bout, the gelding has been working steadily toward his comeback.
Read more on BloodHorse.com:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/86862/wise-dan-to-make-return-in-bernard-baruch#ixzz3AvTMyMrm

HBPA Horsemen Reaffirm Support of Lasix

HBPA Horsemen Reaffirm Support of Lasix
The National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association restated its strong support for the continued use of Lasix (furosemide, also commonly called Salix) at its summer convention Aug.15-17 in Oklahoma City.
Lasix is currently the only recognized treatment for exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage.
The National HBPA joins the Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the Thoroughbred Owners of California, and the California Thoroughbred Trainers in supporting Lasix use in recent statements. Together these four horsemen’s groups have nearly 50,000 owner and trainer members who race in the United States and Canada.
Those attending the Oklahoma City convention heard a panel of nationally recognized experts stating that current medical science does not support The Jockey Club’s call for banning the race-day use of Lasix. The NHBPA says a ban would inevitably be harmful to horses.
In June, The Jockey Club called on industry stakeholders to come together to conduct a Lasix study that would examine the timing of administration of the medication to prevent EIPH. The organization also has said it would pursue federal legislation toward a national policy on medication reform in racing.
Pulmonary bleeding is inextricably associated with horses, and puts the health of horses and safety of jockeys at risk, the National HBPA stated in a release.
“Until a better treatment for this progressive disease is identified, there is no possible ethical or humane justification for depriving racing horses and their riders of the protective therapeutic benefits of Lasix.”

Read more on BloodHorse.com:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/86840/hbpa-horsemen-reaffirm-support-of-lasix#ixzz3AoFlKeMf

LoPresti Leans to Woodbine Mile for Wise Dan

 

LoPresti Leans to Woodbine Mile for Wise Dan

Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt

Trainer Charlie LoPresti was still mulling over comeback options for Wise Dan but seemed more inclined toward deciding after sending the two-time Horse of the Year through his third dirt work at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 16.

Under regular exercise rider Damien Rock, Morton Fink’s homebred gelding clicked through five furlongs in 1:01.64 on the main track at the upstate New York oval. Following the move—Wise Dan’s sixth since returning to training from May 16 colic surgery—LoPresti said the Sept. 14 Ricoh Woodbine Mile (Can-IT) is emerging as the most likely comeback race for the six-time Eclipse Award winner.

“He did really good; we were really pleased with him and I think everybody was happy with what they saw,” LoPresti said. “I think he’s turned the corner in the last three weeks, he just needed a little bit of time.”

LoPresti had mentioned the Aug. 9 Fourstardave Handicap (gr. IIT) or the Aug. 30 Bernard Baruch (gr. IIT), both at Saratoga, as options for 7-year-old Wise Dan.

In his only two starts this year, Wise Dan aced repeat victories in the Maker’s 46 Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland and the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (gr. IT) at Churchill Downs. But the two-time Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner did not start in the Fourstardave, a race he won in 2012 and 2013.

“Ten weeks ago the horse had his belly open on the operating table,” LoPresti said. “It’s just a slow, fragile process getting him to where I wanted him to be.”

After working Wise Dan once on the Keeneland lawn July 11 and twice on the turf at Saratoga’s Oklahoma oval, LoPresti shifted to the Saratoga dirt to continue the gelding’s stamina-building exercises. The chestnut son of Wiseman’s Ferry   went six furlongs Aug. 9 on the main track, in company with stablemate Luzianna Man.

“Last week was when I really pushed him, because I felt like he had enough bottom in him,” LoPresti said. “That was the work where I really tightened the screws down, and today I expected him to work like his old self.”

While LoPresti did not rule out the Bernard Baruch as a potential starting point for Wise Dan’s second-half season, he said the Woodbine Mile seems more likely. Wise Dan won the 2013 Woodbine Mile in a track-record 1:31.75 after winning the 2012 edition as well, both races that propelled him toward his Breeders’ Cup Mile victories at the end of the year.

“I’m not sure what the right thing to do is,” the trainer said of choosing Wise Dan’s first race back. “If I run him in the Bernard Baruch, I blow any chance of going to Woodbine with him. Mr. Fink and I talked about it a little bit last week, and we’re going to talk about it this week. We’re leaning more towards the Woodbine race, to be honest.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about the grade I status and the kind of horse we still think he is,” LoPresti said. Why wouldn’t you run him back in a grade I? He’s done it every time off the bench. It’s a turf course that he really loves, he doesn’t have to carry (additional) weight, it’s a grade I Breeders’ Cup ‘Win and You’re In.’

“We could run him at Woodbine, run in the Shadwell Turf Mile (gr. IT), run in the Breeders’ Cup Mile, and come out of the Breeders’ Cup and if all went right, run in the Clark and put him away (for the winter) at the end of the year.”

Bred in Kentucky out of the Wolf Power mare Lisa Danielle, Wise Dan has a record of 21 wins—10 of them in grade I events—and two seconds from 29 starts and earnings of $6,802,920.
Read more on BloodHorse.com:  http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/86801/lopresti-leans-to-woodbine-mile-for-wise-dan#ixzz3AeD67vJs